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Showing posts from November, 2006

My First Day Off

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I've been in Bentiu, my new home for the next six months, since Wednesday afternoon, only a matter of a few days. There seems to have been a lot to take in during that time and today there seems to be a minute now to type some descriptions of where I am on my first day off.
(Background: After far too long waiting in Paris for a Sudan visa to enter the country I finally boarded a flight by Quatar Airways to Doha in the gulf. Then after a short wait in the half finished airport another flight down to Khartoum, the capital city of this, the largest country in Africa. I spent a few days in Khartoum and then it was another set of three flights in progressively smaller aircraft until I touched down in a little eight seater Cessna with a charming smart arse macho south african pilot).
I'm now typing this email on my laptop while sitting in the living tukul, which is a very traditional African hut with a thatched roof made of dried grass and walls of sticks and mud. The floor is a mixtu…

First Impressions of Bentiu

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Jet black kids playing in the mud. Striking african women with platted hair and colourful clothes. Two green military tanks being washed in the river. A comical meeting with our french field coordinator and his little english, and the new government finance ministry, in a room full of people doing nothing all day. TB patients coughing behind the grass isolation fence. Chatting to the young french doctor who wants to know what a kiwi looks like. Invited to play volleyball on Sunday with the Red Cross expats down the way. Trying to help Kaliphar the mechanic with the generator even though we don't speak each other's language. Meeting with the UN World Food Program woman to try and explain needing to destroy 200 bags of donated wheat which are full of insects. Trying to figure out what exactly 'it's broken' means with respect to the vehicle radio. So many white land cruisers stirring up the dust on the road. Showering under a tap sticking out of the tin ceiling. Rice …

White and Blue Nile Rivers

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Couldn't help but break the rules and get some photos of one of the most famous geographical points in Africa, and so I wandered past the teenage soldiers on the bridge and headed along the flood bank until I came to the where the two rivers meet. It seems that as it is the end of the rainy season the names are misleading and the usually Blue Nile is very brown. Any other country would have a wonderful public area with signposts and tourists and cameras and touts, but here it is just the back end of a run down kids play park which seemed pretty closed up??

Also checked out the local National Museum which had a number of things saved from the flooding caused by the building of the Aswan Dam by Egypt (which I visited way back in 1994, I think I'm getting old).

I'm off tomorrow morning on a World Food Program flight south and so this will be my last post for a little while, will check back in with text but probably no more photos for a little while sorry (or maybe I'll add …

Into Africa

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Africa is hot and dusty and huge, just as expected really. I have landed in Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan, and leave soon for the south of the country and my home for the next six months, Bentiu. I flew here from Paris on Quatar Airlines via the city of Doha in the gulf.

I am keen to see a little of this historical city, sitting at the confluence of the Blue Nile and White Nile rivers. Taking photos seems to be a bit of a problem here though and so I grabbed an aerial photo from google earth to show the joining of the rivers. It also shows the main airport from which the government here launches bombing raids in Darfur and if you zoom in you can even see the attack helicopters that are also used against villages. The MSF office and house where I am staying is located just to left of the end of the runway near the blank square area (a cemetery actually) and the main town area is in the centre of the photo on the south bank of the clear flowing Blue Nile.

I'm stuck in the office…

Flying Machines

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I'm back in Paris again for final briefings from the MSF France office. I've been given the background of the mission, the budget and a few hints and tips on the people already down there in Sudan. I've been out to the bookshop and got a guidebook and map for some more background info.

I'm heading for a little place called Bentiu which is in the south of the country where a peace deal was signed last year and things should be pretty stable. Certainly in comparison to the Darfur region just to the north, things should be very quiet.

Today was a holiday in France and so with no chance of my visa or plane tickets coming through I thought it was time to check out the Paris Air and Space Museum. What a place, just fantastic for an aviation and technology nut like me. Lots of rockets, nuclear missiles, jet fighters and even two shiny Concordes! Most excellent.

More Wanders in the Mountains

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While filling in time waiting for my upcoming MSF job I have been getting into the hills as much as possible.

I visited Chamonix and the the large area of walkways, paths and refuges on the western side of the valley. This allowed for fantastic views across to the 'big' mountains (inluding Mt Blanc) on the main French Italian boarder.

I had a bit of luck on my way to the mountains one day as in a little town second hand sale I spotted a pair of TR12 ski touring boots. I had mine stolen along with my car just before leaving New Zealand and so picking up a replacement pair for 35 euro was great.

A great overnight trip was up another little valley in the Chamonix area to a little refuge which had an open 'winter' room to stay. The weather was not too cold at all and there were great views from higher up on the range.

I also visited the Grenoble area, and did some day hikes up a valley inland from the town of Allevard. The weeks of waiting for a mission have been a little frus…